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July 03, 2007

How standards change

A gentleman who lived in a 1,300-square-foot house for several decades told host Mary Walden that when he eventually sold the house it would likely be torn down and a larger home built on the site. That's about the same size of the first home that she and her husband, N.C. State University economist Mike Walden, bought. She asks Mike, "Just what's happening here? Are we now super-sizing everything?"

"Well I don't know if I'd go that far," replies Dr. Walden, a North Carolina Cooperative Extension specialist. "But I think this is a good example of how standards do change.

"Thirty years ago ... a 1,300-square foot house was average. Now it's not," he adds. "Times change, and what people find acceptable in their consumption also changes.

"Now houses have gotten bigger in part because we are richer -- not everyone, but on average. And square footage of a house is something people generally want more of.

"And so as people earn ... more money, they buy bigger homes. And so we have dramatically seen increases in the average size of a home over time," he concluded. "A house today is not the same as a house 30 years ago. So I think people are just exercising their desire to have more, and again as our societies become wealthier, we can afford more."

Posted by deeshore at July 3, 2007 08:00 AM

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